Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ammonite at hastings

Bayeux Tapestry (it's an *embroidery* people, ah, fuck it...)

Every few weeks I make a list of some of the search terms people use to find me. As usual, I'll start with the ammonites, though this time I picked just one because I was quite taken with the notion.

- ammonites at hastings--If I'd had time, I would have Photoshopped an ammonite into the pic above, shooting that arrow in King Harold's eye. Or--no, I might have swapped it for the dog (though most of you seem to like dogs, so, huh, scratch that) right next to the handy sword. But perhaps you, Dear Searcher, were simply looking for seasides with fossils, like Whitby. I've just had fun writing a scene where child Hild, upon the discovery of a pterosaur skeleton in the cliffs of Whitby (oh, yes, that happens), speculates upon dragons...

- an abundance of katherines--What a lovely phrase. I imagine pretty Katherine flowers clumped in a dell, like daffodils.

- better leaves--Better than what? Or perhaps leaves of the better tree. I Googled 'better leaves' to see what happened, and saw a post titled 'A Breeder's Perspective'. Oooh, I thought, good old-fashioned feminist rant! But, no, it was about rhododendrons.

- clarion or clarion west--Well, now, this is a big question. I studied at Clarion (in 1988, when it was at MSU) and I've taught at Clarion West. I don't think you could go wrong with either--if you're ready. And of course if you're not ready, you'll get weeded out by the selecting readers. So assuming you are ready, take a look at their websites and see which teachers appeal to you most: who do you think you have something to learn from? When I applied (there was only one Clarion back in the day) I didn't recognise the names of most of my Clarion instructors. There again, I was clueless about everything writing-related. I had no idea, for example, that Clarion was a Big Deal. I just needed to get out of town for a while and applied for a random set of study opportunities. It came down to Clarion or a women's martial arts camp in the Netherlands. Clarion said yes first. Strange to think that becoming a writer can turn on such apparently random events.

- explain hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable--Hearts will always break. Necessarily so. Think of all the fabulous bad song lyrics and poetry we'd be missing if it were otherwise. (Now I'm going to go singalong-sobalong to Harry Nilsson's 'Without You', love that song.)

- famous quotes on how courage matures young adults--Either you, Dear Searcher, are the parent of a young adult who is faced with a situation demanding courage, or you are that young adult. Sadly, I don't have any favourite qutoes offer or any particular wisdom. In my opinion, the only thing that matures a young adult is time on the planet. We all go through it, and it will probably break your heart--but then you'll get to do the singalong-sobalong thing which has its own rewards.

- giggle plant and hard drinking artists--I don't think having your brain chemically altered by substances legal and not turns a person into an artist, but I do think artists like to explore. (We're shamans, mapping unknown territory so others don't have to.) We're more likely to fling our brains into space with the aid of plants and liquids because, hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time, because we're helpless before that need to know. Happily, I didn't get caught, didn't get addicted to that rush, but I did get caught by writing. I'm an addict. It is a rush.

- hawkes harbor, hinton s.e.--Hawkes Harbor is such a a strange book. It reads like something dreamed up by a woman who has been locked in a box for twenty years. Teen vampire servants meet a Stephen King milieu. Only I'm guessing Hinton hasn't read any Stephen King. It is a seriously weird piece of work, and oddly engaging in its own naiveté.

- historian dogs--Yes, they are all vile ranting dogs, those wicked historians, constantly squabbling over silly details and baying for the blood of heretical theorists.

- how many years ago was beowulf written--Oh, I'm not touching that with a bargepole. (See above.) If I even tried to answer that they'd tear me to pieces. Ah, what the fuck. No one on the planet will agree with me on this, but I think it was written in the eighth century. There. Bring on the dogs...

- interrobang in spanish--Well, it would be upside down, for one thing. Or one of them would be.

- little silver patrons get you drunk--I think you can stop experimenting now. Time to dry out and go write something.

- nazgul los angeles--This makes perfect sense to me.

- pronounce yaguara--The last time someone asked me that was in Long Beach, in 1996, at the beginning of the Nebula* banquet. "Yaguara" was a finalist in the novella category. Ann Crispin, who was announcing the winner of said category, came up to me at the pre-banquet cocktail party and asked: how do I pronounce it? "Yag-WAHR-a," I said, "Spanish for jaguar." And onstage, reading the nominations, Ann pronounced it Yag-OOR-a, and I didn't win anyway. Tuh. (Elizabeth Hand won for "Last Summer on Mars Hill.") In 1997 Slow River was nominated for a Nebula. I went to the banquet in Kansas City. I didn't expect to win. (I thought Stephenson's The Diamond Age was a shoo-in.) Everyone at my table but me was nervous. I knew I had no chance so I tucked into my steak and baked potato and wine with gusto: fuck it, may as well party. The evening progressed. I had demolished dessert, done a turn of guest blogging for and was back at my table wishing the wine wasn't all gone when it was time for the novel category. I picked up my glass of water, lifted it to my mouth for an enormous gulp, and looked up--right into the face of Ann Crispin on the stage, waiting to hand the award to the announcer for presentation. She gave me a Significant Look. I put the water glass, untasted, down with a thump. The world stopped briefly. Then I heard my name. If I'd had a mouthful of water I would have sprayed it all over my table companions, or choked. So thank you, Ann.

- sometime i wake up grouchy other times i let her sleep in and i go fishing--Never been fishing in my life. But I hear you on the grouchy bit. I imagine getting outside in the wide open peace of a river valley would soothe even the most savage beast.

- swedish fainting, swedish farting--Those wacky foreigners.

- why should I do my homework--Because I bloody well won't do it for you.

[* Several years ago I was honoured in a very weird ceremony at the King County Council offices. I and several other writers (Sherman Alexie, David Takami, Jack Peruski and others) were given these proclamations full of whereases and hereinafters and fed a scrumptious buffet meal. Then in the council chambers the chief executive (or whatever his title is) intoned our achievements. I was the winner of 'the prestigious Neboola award and five Lambadas'.]

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